1st Territorial Capitol of Kansas

The First Territorial Capitol of Kansas is the only remaining building of the now extinct town of Pawnee, Kansas. The town – and the building – served as the capital of Kansas for five days, July 2-6, 1855. Some say the Civil War started as a result of the actions of the legislature that met there.

Governor Andrew Reeder picked the location – away from the pro-slavery influence of Missouri – where the legislature would choose a permanent seat of government, create a constitution and decide if Kansas was going to be a free or slave state. However, legislators from Missouri made there way to the town and voted out all but one of the anti-slavery members and replaced them with pro-slavery men. This action earned the group the lasting nickname of “Bogus Legislature.” 


The legislators passed a bill on July 4th to move to Shawnee mission as it was closer for the Missourians and quickly overrode the governor’s veto of the bill. After adjourning on July 6th, the men loaded up all of their property and on horse and wagons, made their way to the new site, with the governor reluctantly following.

The building went through many hardships after that. In 1977, the roof was torn off during a windstorm leaving the interior heavily damaged. There was talk of renovation for many years but finally in 1908 the first part of that talk became reality. With funds raised in the amount of $499.50, walls were reinforced and repaired, doors and windows were squared up and cracked floors were filled with cement. Further restoration occurred in 1926 when the Union Pacific Railroad provided $20,000 to the project, $2,000 going to the roof alone.

The building was dedicated to the National Historic Register in 1928 and soon after became a history museum.

The First Territorial Capitol is located on Fort Riley so to see the building visitors will have to go to the Visitor Control Center at the main gate for a pass. The interior of the building is closed to visitors, so tours have been cancelled for the time being. To learn more about this historic building, visit www.https://www.kshs.org/p/first-territorial-capitol/19572